Inside the new Omaha VA Emergency Care Center (Omaha, Neb.), Colored light shines down a long corridor connecting the new facility to the current Omaha VA Medical Center. Running along the western facade of the 157,000-square-foot addition, the long, stained-glass curtain wall of the corridor represents the “bar of honor” that veterans earned and placed on their lapels. . Jonathan Fliege, associate and design director at Leo A Daly (Omaha), provided architectural, engineering and interior design services for the project. “You ‘breathe’ colors almost as you pass through this space.”
The project not only represents a new outpatient facility for VA, but also marks the first public private partnership funded VA healthcare facility delivered nationwide since Congress passed the Community. Help Investment Through Assets and Essential Improvement (CHIP IN) for the Veterans Act of 2016. “The CHIP IN for Vets Act allows private funds to be grouped with VA dollars to make a project. project, ”said Jeffrey Monzu, vice president, senior project manager, at Leo A Daly (Omaha).
Built in the late 1940s, the original Omaha VA Medical Center was long overdue for replacement but continues to be delayed due to other priorities. Realizing the need to expand healthcare access to 40,000 unaided veterans in the area, a local donor group sought to utilize the CHIP IN program and set up a Care Development Company. Veterans Ambulance Care (VACDC), not-for-profit. VACDC has continued to raise $ 30 million to add the $ 56 million allocated by VA to an alternative project (the group that oversees the distribution of funds as well as construction).
While the total funding – $ 86 million in total – was not enough to build a full hospital, it was used to build a new three-story outpatient center, which opened in August 2020. “ Unlike private healthcare, VA has spent the past few years improving outpatient services and their network of community-based outpatient clinics. This approach gives veterans more opportunities to access primary, preventive and psychiatric health care services, thereby improving their overall health and reducing the need for Inpatient care and procedures are more important and intensive, ”said Monzu.
While the old facility had old VA outpatient clinics spread across the 12-story hospital, making it difficult to move, the new 156,000 square foot facility offers seven primary care clinics on the ground floor and first floor. as well as women’s clinics. clinic with dedicated ground floor service and waiting areas (a first of its kind for VA). A special care clinic shared by other orthopedic, cardiological and medical specialists; radioactivity; and a new outpatient surgery center that occupies the second floor. A new gateway on the first floor provides direct indoor access to the existing hospital, continuing to be used by inpatients as well as administrative and medical services offices.
The outpatient setting is designed to create a patient-centered experience for veterans, clearly reflecting dignity and respect. “The main guiding principle, as a term, is” veteran-centric, “says Fliege. In the beginning, members of the design team asked themselves a big question: What does a veteran mean to you in this community? “We spent a few hours sticking things up on a large board, on ideas. They all seem to be filtered into a few groups, namely sacrifice, freedom, duty and honor, ”said Fliege.
These themes lead to the design of the three elements that are specific to the establishment. The first is a undulating glass wall on the north facade of the outpatient center, 50 feet high and 235 feet wide to symbolize the American flag fluttering in the wind. “At the end of the day, our entire society volunteered to take their own time to protect our country,” Fliege said. “It’s a way for us to reflect our respect for the sacrifices and shared freedom they offer us.”
The multiple plane changes of the curtain wall, along with the required federal explosion requirements for the structure, made for a complex fabrication and construction process have been reduced by a combination of Build custom processes and get expert subcontractors soon.
These challenges also worked with a second characteristic element, the colored “ribbon wall” along the western facade connecting the two facilities. The team members learned that by using colored laminates instead of glass on the windows, they could significantly reduce costs and meet the explosive energy requirements that require the use of these laminates. windows to reduce shattering.
The third element, a limestone wall that runs along a continuous plane inside the base, represents the mission. Since limestone is a sedimentary rock layered over time, the wall represents the layers of dirt that veterans have clung to their boots after serving.
These three defining features also inform the space, namely planning and organization, Monzu said. “It’s very easy for patients to come and intuitively understand where they need to be,” he said. For example, the entrance to the main hall has a large staircase clad in warm white oak that leads to a 3,000-foot corridor connecting to the current hospital. The layout of the primary health clinics on the ground floor and the first floor is the same, with the exception of a separate women’s clinic, located opposite the main entrance. Jennifer Ankerson, senior interior designer at Leo A Daly (Omaha) said: “Booking a women’s clinic on the ground floor is a strategy to provide a tangible, private, easy-to-use health care resource. easily accessible to female veterans who choose to use it.
On all three floors, the limestone wall element separates the public space from the private clinic area. “Metaphorically speaking, you go through this porch of stone guard and you’ll be safe inside while you’re most vulnerable,” Fliege said. “After your exam or your procedure, you pass and you go back to the public sector.”
Waiting areas, facing the limestone wall, were positioned on the side of the “flag wall” to maximize daylight access. From here, veterans enter exam rooms through private corridors in the perimeter leading to VA’s Aligned Patient Care Group (PACT) clinic space, which surrounds the team space. between. Monzu says clear and separate access points for employees and patients support flexibility in use and collaboration for employees.
“There are more opportunities for them to exchange opinions and information as well as consult other staff members without being in the hallways outside other patients’ rooms,” Monzu adds. For veterans, the plan offers a more dignified patient experience. “They don’t go past the nursing station or see caregivers talking about other patients, etc.”
Likewise, there is a clear separation of traffic in the areas behind the house. For example, from an outpatient surgery center, staff can transport patients in need of more acute care to the hospital through a private service corridor on the second floor. Specialized service and staff areas, including glass-walled meeting rooms and team workspaces, are also located in the backyard area and overlooking the new healing garden located between the new center and the hospital. currently, providing daylight views and access to daylight for staff and patients at both facilities.
Finally, the facility’s interior design is also informed by those iconic elements, supporting them through a minimalistic approach. “If you look at the interior, the goal is to have those three elements always the star,” says Ankerson. This is achieved through the use of a soft, almost monochromatic palette of gray with warm wood accents and blobs. For example, the check-in and check-out desks on each floor, almost carved into limestone walls, are framed in white oak to support the overall clean aesthetic. The interior is primarily annotated by the color of the “ribbon wall”, while works of art commissioned by local veterans are subtly placed on the walls to further create a Quiet, comfortable environment shows respect for veterans.
All stakeholders agree that the degree of cooperation, promoted very early and continued throughout the life of the project, has proven to be in the best interests of Omaha VA Ambulance Care Center. Ryan Sawall, Senior Vice President of McCarthy Building Enterprises Inc. (Omaha), the project’s contractor said: “The team’s collaboration is probably the biggest thing that made this project a success.
“It’s one of those projects that will be special for everyone who is involved for a long time.”
Evidence can be found at the end of the project, when the local VA representative presented the donor team with a gift of bald eagle sculpture placed in the healing garden. “In short, that captures the relationship of all the big players on the matter,” said Fliege. “It sounds like we’re trying, but during my 27 years at Leo A Daly, this is definitely a special project.”
Project Name: Omaha VA Ambulance Care Center
Project completion date: August 4, 2020
Owner: US Department of Veterans Affairs
Total building area: 157,000 sq. Ft.
Total construction cost: 67.3 million USD
Cost / sq. ft: $ 429
Architecture: Leo A Daly
Interior Design: Leo A Daly
General Contractor: McCarthy Building Companies Inc.
Technique: Leo A Daly
Builders: McCarthy Building Companies Inc.
Carpet / floor: Johnsonite, Teknoflor, Patcraft, Atlas, Mohawk
Ceiling / wall system: USG, Rulon International Inc., Johnsonite, Koroseal Arbor Wood, Sherwin Williams, Tnemec
Door / lock / hardware: AD Systems, VT Industries Best, Glynn-Johnson, LCN, Assa Abloy, Non Precision, Stanley, Trimco
Furniture – seats / storage box: Solution Steelcase, Herman Miller
Handrails / protective wall: C / S Acrovyn
Light: Acuity Brands Lighting, Spotlight
Signs / navigation: ASI
Surfaces – solid / other: List Terrazzo, Stonhard, Laminart, Crossville, Atlas Concorde USA, Ceasar USA
Casework Designer: Designer Woods
Exterior Materials / Finishing: US Stone, AWS, Metal Specialty Systems, Inc.
Others: Precast MFG enterprise; M & M steel erection (Canopy and custom steel, Steel installation); AWS (Customizable Canopy and Steel, Glass Installation), Keystone Glass Company (Exterior Glass Railing)
Joann Plockova is a freelance writer living among Jupiter, Fla. And Prague, Czech Republic. She can be contacted at [email protected].